Normally when I do a “Thankful Thursday” post it consists of a list of random things I’ve been thankful for throughout the week. While I could probably create my usual short list, for this week’s installment I shall tell you the story about when my greatest fear almost became a reality…and how it “thankfully” did not. I am just now recovering actually and couldn’t stop thinking about it for several days, imagining what could have happened if my greatest fear actually came true. Although this greatest fear didn’t come to fruition, it planted the seed in my head, and now I am even more paranoid than I was before. I used to blame the news for all of my paranoia’s, and my Facebook feed, and just the general quantity of all the horrible stories that I come across throughout the day in various forms. Then of course my almost 3-year old toddler plays tricks on me like this and it’s basically enough to put me over the edge.
Back up to last Monday, after we got home from work and school. Matt was in Birmingham for a couple days, so it was just Asher Wade and myself. Because don’t all traumatic things happen when the other spouse is out of town? It was a gorgeous day. Even though I had already followed AW around the neighborhood while he rode his scooter, he still wanted to play outside some more. I was exhausted, but I agreed to let him play in the backyard for a little bit while I sat on the deck relaxing and supervising. Our back yard is fenced in. There’s a gate at the back of the yard leading out to the neighborhood pool (which has its own locked gate around it) and a gate on the side, leading towards the front of our house. We can lock the gates, but we never have. AW has never tried to enter or leave that way…he just always walks out of the house on to the deck and enters the yard that way. We live in a very safe, small neighborhood. We are also one of the ten or so homes that are actually finished. There are several homes being built around us and there are many construction workers in the neighborhood during the day. That afternoon in particular there were several working on the home right next to us. We don’t get much traffic, especially on our side of the neighborhood, unless it’s random people driving through to look at lots or just being nosy.
Anyways, I was watching him from the deck while he played soccer and chased Maddux around. I needed to run in and use the potty, so I yelled that I would be right back. He was not paying attention and didn’t even hear me I don’t think. I walked in the house which takes you directly into the kitchen, used the potty, which is right off the kitchen, then noticed Annie pacing in front of her dish, so I fed her and then went ahead and filled Maddux’s bowl while I was it. All in all I was probably in the house for 3-4 minutes, max, totally within ear and eye shot of the backyard. The back of our house leading out to the deck is sliding glass doors and I had left them wide open. When I turned to walk back out I had this horrible feeling come over me…it was suddenly dead quiet. Asher Wade had been yelling and running around just before and now suddenly I heard nothing. I can’t describe it. I hadn’t even looked outside yet, but I just knew he wasn’t there. I stepped on to the deck and saw Maddux standing in the middle of the yard next to the soccer ball, but no Asher Wade. I flew out in to the yard, started screaming his name and looking all over. Like I said, our house is brand new construction, so the trees we do have are recently planted and not all that big. There’s nothing he could legitimately hide behind, but I ran over to every single tree and looked, as though he had somehow made himself stick thin. There’s some crawl space under the deck and I looked under there. This whole time I was frantically screaming his name. I ran over to the construction workers who were just on the other side of the fence and looking at me by now and asked them if they saw him leave and they just shook their heads, but didn’t offer much else. I noticed both gates were closed, and like I mentioned, I knew they weren’t locked, but it just never dawned on me that AW would know how to unlatch them, or even think to walk out of the yard without us. He’s never tried. I headed for the gate on the side of the house first, which would lead me to the driveway and front of the house, and the road. I looked on the front porch. The garage was closed and I knew the front door was still locked. I was still screaming his name. The neighbors across the street must have had their windows open and heard me because they came out and asked me what was wrong. I told them Asher Wade was missing and they quickly sprung into action and I think I heard the husband say we should probably call the police immediately.
Y’all, at this point I had two different scenarios going through my head, and neither were good. I either thought that one of the construction workers had heard me yell I will be right back and then grabbed him from over the fence, or there was a random person driving by at that exact time and saw a little boy in the backyard playing by himself and grabbed him. In that moment I was literally scared to death that my baby boy was in someone’s car being driven away. I cannot even describe this feeling…it was the worst thing ever.
I continued to just run around the front screaming his name, looking down the street to see if I saw any cars. I was completely frantic and probably a little out of my mind. I was literally about to tell my neighbor to please get his car so we could drive around when suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw some movement. There in the far corner of our front porch, behind a rocking chair was Asher Wade. He must have been crouched down and had just stood up. I honestly don’t know how we missed him before…he must have been angled just so he was hidden from our view. He looked at me with a silly grin and said “Hi mommy” like nothing was wrong. Like I hadn’t just been screaming his name for a few minutes running around like a crazy person. Obviously he thought this was all a perfect reaction to his little trick. Which brings me to another point…I had no idea that a not quite 3-year old could even devise a scheme like this. I mean, think about it. Within the 3-4 minutes I was in the house, he formulated a plan to play a trick on me, go out the latched gate, find a hiding spot, that was actually a legitimately good hiding spot, watch and listen as I ran around like a crazy person screaming for him, and then pop out when he decided he was ready. He’s never done anything even close to making me think he was capable of these sort of shenanigans already. Lesson learned. Toddlers have way more going on in those little brains than you may think.
When he popped out like that and I realized he was safe I literally just burst into tears and started yelling over and over not to ever do something like that again, which of course made him cry, which of course made me calm down and realize that everything was in fact ok, and he’s just a little boy and didn’t realize. Still though, I wanted to make sure he understood how serious I was. It’s always a rock and a hard place when you want to comfort and soothe your child, but also make then understand that what they did was wrong. He was pretty shaken up after seeing my reaction though, so I think he got it…at least until the next time. At least I’ll (hopefully) be more prepared next time though. Moral of the story? Never underestimate a toddler.
On another note, this is how I hurt my foot. I was so hyped up on adrenaline that I didn’t even realize I had hurt my foot until we were back in the house. I sat AW on a barstool to get some water and suddenly I realized my foot was throbbing and it hurt to put any pressure on it. I have no clue what happened, but all I can assume is that while running around (with no shoes on) I had either twisted it or stepped on something. It feels much better now, so whatever I did, I don’t think it was serious. I was still shaken up an hour later and I went to open a package with a knife and sliced my finger to the point that I thought I may be calling someone from church to ask them to come over to watch AW so I could go to the ER for stitches. Thankfully I got the bleeding to stop and got it bandaged up and decided it was fine. Needless to say it was an eventful evening though. Poor Matt…I don’t think he knew what to do or whether he needed to come home. I got all upset again when I relayed the horrible story to him over the phone. I still kept replaying the whole scene over and over in my head for several days after.
Thankfully everything turned out just fine. I can’t even imagine how these parents, that have actually lost a child, have continued on. There is nothing scarier as a parent than the thought of losing a child. Being a mom is hard. I wish we didn’t have to worry about things like this, or that my mind wouldn’t immediately go to such a scary place, but with all the crazy things that go on in the world, it’s inevitable. I’m incredibly thankful that everything was fine and it was simply a little trick, but it makes you realize just how quickly something bad could happen.
So that’s what I am thankful for this week. Thankful that Asher Wade is safe and sound. Oh, and after dealing with croup for the past several days, I am thankful that he appears to be on the mend.